After Action Report; New Kingdom Egyptians versus Hittites (Impetus rules) 28 Sept 2014
The purpose of my after action reports are not to give a detailed, blow-by-blow account of a particular wargame, but rather to appraise the effectiveness of the rule set used, and the lessons to be learnt from the tactical plans employed.
Both armies in this game were supplied by myself and comprised 450 points using 15mm figures from a range of manufacturers. The rules to be used were Impetus (Lorenzo Sartori; Dadi&Piombo, 2008). My opponent, Ian, and myself are very familiar with the Impetus rules and both agree that they give a very satisfactory and enjoyable gaming experience. The primary aim of this game was to explore how well the rules covered the unique feel of late bronze age chariot warfare. To help facilitate this we both agreed to fight over a flat, open battlefield that featured only a couple of low gentle hills. Both armies had 3 generals, all rated as ‘fair’.
I commanded the Egyptians and my army comprised a large body of good quality infantry (mix of spearmen and archers), a few units of bow armed skirmishers, and 5 units of good light chariots. The Hittites had a numerical superiority of chariots (8 units), that included some heavier chariots. They also had a large body of infantry but these were lighter and poorer than the Egyptians.
I was nominated as the defender and therefore deployed first. I choose to deploy in a fairly classical manner with my chariots on either flank and an infantry dominated centre. I expected Ian to deploy a chariot heavy command of one of his flanks (which he did) but I could not predict which flank this would be. Even if I had concentrated my chariots to match his deployment, I would still be significantly outnumbered. My plan was to use my numerically weaker chariots to slow his advance by shooting and evading, allowing me time to rapidly advance my infantry and overpower his central command.
Ian did deploy all his chariots on my right flank, and unfortunately my battle plan rapidly fell apart. On the first turn I tried to activate my crucial right flank commander and threw double 1, which caused the commander to drop from ‘fair’ to ‘poor’ quality. On turn 2, amazingly I again threw double 1 for my right flank commander, dropping him down to ‘incompetent’ quality. Both armies were beginning to close with each other, and the next turn would be crucial. The importance of winning the initiative on my right flank was clear to both of us, and I was at a clear disadvantage due to the reduction in quality of my general. This time I threw a double 4, and because of the incompetence of the general, any double meant that his command failed to activate on that turn. The Hittite chariots smashed into my forces who were unable to react or evade, and as a consequence my command shattered and routed. Elsewhere on the battlefield, my left flank force did prevail over the small opposing command of Anatolian allies and routed them, but I took a surprising amount of damage in doing so (my dice rolling was poor throughout the whole game). In the centre my good quality infantry were only just getting into a position to attack his infantry, and again due to poor dice I did not inflict significant casualties with my archers. Now, because of the collapse of my right flank, I had to re-align some of my units to meet the chariot threat, whilst at the same time trying to inflict some rapid victories before my whole army broke. The only hope was to gamble that a couple of rash, unsupported charges would lead to a breakthrough in the centre. There was no reversal of luck, and my attacks failed; the left flank general was killed and my army broke.
This was a crushing, decisive victory for the Hittites commanded by Ian. With hindsight I can see that I was facing defeat from the very start because of poor deployment decisions, and although I did throw some unbelievably bad dice, I don’t think I can lay any blame on poor luck. The double downgrading of my right flank general and his subsequent failure to activate (approx 1:8000 probability) certainly did not help matters. The open battlefield did the Egyptians no favour; a few bits of difficult terrain would have helped to hinder the deployment and movement of the key Hittite chariot wing. My flank commands were too weak and needed to be bolstered by some solid infantry, which would have given my outnumbered chariots some protection. Regarding the testing of the Impetus chariot rules; I have to conclude that this battle failed to shed any light! The lack of hindering terrain allowed the Hittite chariots to move directly against me with no awkward manoeuvres required. In fact, the heavy chariots forming the Hittite second line never changed direction in the entire battle (nor were they engaged in any combat). My plan to shoot ‘n’ scoot with my light chariots also failed to occur due to the generals’ failure to activate! The one error I made with my chariots was on the other flank where I charged the opposing Anatolian foot rather than shoot at them, which would have been just as effective but would have risked little or no casualties in return. This clearly demonstrates how pressure on one part of the battlefield can distract a player making decisions on a quieter sector!To conclude, although this wargame did not show off the chariot rules within Impetus, and it resulted in a major defeat for myself, a good enjoyable game resulted that was played to a conclusion in roughly 2.5 hours. For myself, Impetus remains the go to rule set for both Ancient and early Renaissance wargaming. Another game is planned in the near future, this time focussing on the use of the Schiltron in Feudal Scots armies during the time of ‘Braveheart’ and the ‘Bruce’ (rather